James Esler

T HOSE OF US who have only a passing know® ledge of Italian history will have read of the sinister reputation of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, brother and sister, during the fifteenth century. It is a tribute to the inventiveness of conjurers that they use any peg, provided it is sufficiently attractive, on which to hang a magical effect. My own interest in the item we are considering began with reading in' Bruce Elliott's Phoenix suggestions put forward by several well-known literary magicians for a satisfactory solution to the problem, which would rule out the employment of a confederate.

What is the problem? The performer introduces six or seven glasses or tumb'ers, into each of which he pours a little water, having completed this, he explains to his watchers what he hopes to accomplish; telling the story of the playful predilection of the Borgias to " speed the parting guest." At this stage the conjurer leaves the room, having asked someone to add a further measure of water—supposedly a lethal dose—to one of the glasses, during his absence.

On his return, he surveys the scene, takes the glasses one by one sipping a little from each, and leaving the last glass, the doped one, untouched.

This was the problem as posed by Bruce Elliott, and the solutions offered were many and varied, but the difficulty of presenting what is a really first class effect without assistance remained a stumbling block, the most ingenious of the methods suggested leaving much to be desired.

Being intrigued with the novelty of the trick, and the dramatic qualities which it possesses for presentation I have pondered it at frequent intervals ever since, and now for those who may be interested, offer my own solution.

As every magical effect has one weak point, I am bound to admit that such is not entirely absent here. I do not think, however, that it strongly militates against success : anyhow you shall judge for yourself.

In my method I have found that only flat bottomed tumblers can be used. The accessories of which the audience are unaware are circular discs of glass about the size of halfpennies, one in each tumbler before you begin. In the process of pouring the water into the tumblers the glass must be held tilted so that the disc contacts the side of the glass, and must be placed down carefully in this condition, so that all the tumblers, when the water has been added, each have a glass disc in contact with the side of the tumbler. I tilt them to the front, but anyone interested enough to experiment with the method will doubtless have their own notions as to the best way of settling the discs. Each tumbler is handled in the same way and the final position before leaving the room should be that each tumbler has the disc in identical position to its fellows.

Now if one of these receptacles is taken up by someone who is without knowledge of the tell tale disc, and replaced without the same precaution employed by the performer the result will be that the position of the disc will differ substantially from the other tumblers. And it is here that I admit the weak point to which I referred earlier. In this version the conjurer asks that during his absence someone will pick up a tumbler and add a little water to it, setting it down again in the same place. There is nothing more to tell, the conjurer might suspect, but my lay friends have not yet arrived at the answer.


As a suggestion for making certain that the glass is definitely moved I suggest that the magician tells the helper that he wants him to imagine that just behind him on a shelf (here the position of the imaginary shelf is indicated with a gesture of the hand) is an imaginary jar of poison. Near to the base of the jar is a small tap. The helper is instructed to take the glass, place it under the imaginary tap, turn latter and allow the imaginary poison to run into the glass. By these means the helper must move the glass. P.W.

VOLUME SEVEN, No. FOUR - 1/6. (20 Cents) - JANUARY 1953




James Douglas in this reverse twist on the Twentieth Century silks has produced something which with little trouble will make a very effective piece of platform magic. Though he, in the version described takes a story angle, the reader will realise that there is sufficient visual effect to use the effect in mimed presentation. The children's entertainer on the other hand has a nice variation on the stolen princess theme, and those "picture " silks that you may have can be put to a most effective use.—P.W.

T HE PERFORMER displaying two red silks, 1 tells his audience that they represent two notorious criminals who spent a good deal of their time kidnapping famous personalities and holding them to ransom. He proposes to show one of their infamous exploits in which featured a well-known figure (local personality). The latter is represented by a white silk which the performer removes from a paper cone which is opened out, shown empty and returned to its place on a table set on one side of the stage.

The performer continues his story while doing this and states that one day the personality was forcibly removed from his house (the cone) and so that he could not escape he was securely handcuffed between the two badmen. Here the performer ties the white silk between the two red ones and then ties the two red together stating that the kidnappers, wishing to make doubly sure, securely handcuffed their prisoner and themselves together, and off they went to their hide-out. Another cone on the opposite side of the stage is opened out and displayed. The " string " of silks is placed within, with some of the red left showing.

The performer then explains that the prisoner had learned some magic during his life and suddenly thought of the magic formulae, and Hey Presto, he suddenly vanished from the prisoner's grasp. The performer jerks out the red silks and the white has disappeared. The cone is shown empty. Crossing to the other cone the white silk is removed with the performer's words, " You can't keep a good man away from home!"

Requirements : Two paper cones with secret compartment in each a la Tarbell. Two red and two white silks. One of the latter is placed in one of the secret compartments of one of the cones and its duplicate in the compartment proper.

The red silks are displayed and the white is tied between them a la " Sympathetic Silks." The reds are tied together at their free ends and the bunch is placed over the secret compartment of the other cone after showing its front and other side and then folded into position. Care is taken to push the white in first, using wand if necessary, and the tied "ends" of the two reds are left sticking out in view.

To execute the vanish, grasp cone firmly around the place where the white silk is situated. Grasp the knot joining the two red silks and jerk out quickly. The white silk is left behind and the cone is opened out to show its emptiness. Picking up the other cone remove the white silk from the secret compartment and finish.

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